Socialist Worker

Inquest begins into Paul Coker death in police custody

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2185

A man who died in police custody in south east London shouted “I can’t breathe, you’re killing me” as officers detained him before his death, a coroner’s court heard last week.

Paul Coker collapsed in a cell at Plumstead police station in August 2005.

Officers had earlier been called to an argument between Paul and his girlfriend Lucy Chadwick at her home.

Giving evidence at Southwark Coroner’s Court, Lucy said her boyfriend had become “a bit paranoid” after taking cocaine and cannabis and that she wanted him to leave rather than see him in that state.

Her landlord called the police. While she sat downstairs she heard a number of officers go to the room that Paul was refusing to leave.

She then heard him being taken away by officers.

She said, “He was saying, ‘You are hurting me, I can’t breathe, you are killing me’.”

Patricia Coker, Paul’s mother, was the first person to give evidence.

She said her son was “no angel” but “he tried very hard to overcome these problems in his later life.

“He found it difficult, but he was really trying to move forward.”

The inquest continues.

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Tue 19 Jan 2010, 18:59 GMT
Issue No. 2185
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